View as List 7 Diet Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Multi-ethnic female friends preparing food?>

    Trying to lose weight? Then watch out for these common pitfalls that can undermine your efforts.

  • 1

    Restaurant Calories

    My lunch looks so delicious?>

    Whether you eat at fast-food or full-service restau­rants, you’ll likely consume more calo­ries (about 200 more, on average) than you would eating at home, according to a 2015 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which analyzed food records collected from 18,100 adults in the U.S. between 2003 and 2010. 

  • 2

    Menu Manipulation

    Restaurant menu?>

    All kinds of strategies are used in restau­rants to shift attention towards more profitable dishes on the menu. Often these items are the least healthful, according to a study in the Inter­national Journal of Hospitality. In particular, watch out for dishes set off in bold type or in a separate box, and items with descriptive names like Fork-Tender Beef Stew or Velvety Chocolate Mousse. The best way to order a healthful meal is to peruse the entire menu and ask ques­tions of your server.

  • 3

    Cooking Shows

    Chef sprinkling salt on vegetables?>

    According to a 2015 study in Appetite, young women who often watched cooking shows and cooked from scratch weighed about 12 pounds more, on average, than those who did not watch the shows. Women who cooked from scratch but rarely watched cooking shows did not weigh more. Though some cook­ing shows focus on healthy foods, most present “indulgent,” high-calorie fare, the researchers noted.

  • 4

    The Health Halo

    Trail Mix in White Bowl?>

    In a 2015 study in the Journal of Marketing, people who were trying to lose weight consumed more trail mix when the package labeled it as a “Fitness” snack (and had an image of running shoes) rather than just plain “Trail Mix.” Also, weight-conscious participants exercised less after consuming the trail mix labeled "Fitness." Rather than prime people to be more active, as might be expected, the fitness-branded food apparently served as a substitute for exercise.

  • 5

    The Checkout Lane

    Cashier smiling at customer on checkout line in supermarket, close-up?>

    About 90 percent of the food items displayed at checkout lanes are junk foods like candy and chips, according to a survey by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group. Only 2 percent were considered truly healthy foods, such as fruits or nuts. Thirsty? There were three times as many sugar-sweetened drinks on display as plain water.

  • 6

    Diet Drinks

    Potato chips with cola?>

    Think you’re reducing calories by drinking diet drinks? Perhaps not. A 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that overweight people who drink diet beverages instead of sugary ones compensated for the saved calories by eating more food, notably sweet snacks. People of healthy weight, however, did consume fewer calories overall when they drank diet drinks vs. sugared drinks.

  • 7

    Going Gluten-Free

    Gluten Free Bread?>

    Gluten-free diets are essential for anyone with celiac disease. But these days, “gluten-free” is also promoted as a weight loss strategy. Don’t buy it. Gluten-free products are sometimes even higher in calories than their regular counterparts. And because most are made from less-healthful (albeit gluten-free) refined flour, they tend to lack the fiber found in whole grains that aids in weight control. 

    Also see 18 Keys to Healthy Weight Loss